News & Politics

Have You Been Smoking Pot? Denver Police Have a New Way to Tell: The 'Nasal Ranger'

Despite cannabis being legal in Colorado, an 'odor ordinance' could spell trouble for users.

Denver, Colorado—one of the cities in the country to legalize marijuana use—has passed a new “odor ordinance” with a potential $2,000 fine for anyone found guilty of polluting the atmosphere with high concentrations of cannabis. And the police department's plan for enforcement is a strange-looking device called an olfactometer, or more collquially, the "nose telescope."

The so-called environmental ordinance is a result of confusion over the legality of somebody smoking in their own house should the smell seep out into the street. According to the odor ordinance, the smell is viewed as problematic if it is detectable once the smoke is mixed with seven times the volume of clean air. Denver police plan to use the "nose telecope" to enforce the ordinance.

Anyone can buy the product, which looks largely like a portable telescope with a fitted-cup of your nose, but the Denver Police have opted for an item called the “Nasal Ranger” for about $1,500 a pop. However, the most sophisticated version of the nose telescope has the ability to record both the concentration of marijuana in the air, as well as the GPS coordinates of where the smell is emanating from—available for $3,500, making it the most expensive scent-detector on the market. The device does, however, require a subscription to the built-in odor tracker program.

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.

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